3 Fun Ways to Encourage your Kids to Cook & Taste Food

Guest Post by Sarah Wilson of The Wandering Rumpus

I have three girls who each have very different food preferences. As a parent, this is not always easy and sometimes very frustrating, but occasionally, I find a fun way to encourage them to cook or try something new. Here are three ways we’ve found this to work in our home!

  1. Document your cooking adventures IN your cookbooks

Several years ago, my oldest daughter got the American Girl Baking Cookbook as a gift. This is an incredible cookbook to teach kids about baking basics, tools and when to get an adult involved. Plus the recipes are delicious. 

As we bake through the book, after tasting a creation, we all write our review of the recipe in the margins of the cookbook along with the date it was made. Everyone  loves flipping through the cookbook and reading the reviews. Sometimes the girls give it stars and sometimes we’ll share a short story about the day of baking — like the flour fight that ensued when the girls made snickerdoodles, or the whoopie pies we made before one’s first day of middle school.

Writing in the cookbook encourages the girls to bake more and also reminds them of the story behind the dish. It also helps them learn what they do and don’t like and they can alter the recipe if there is something they’d prefer differently (surprisingly, for example, my oldest prefers banana bread without chocolate chips!).

The book itself has become a wonderful family keepsake that I imagine passing down for generations of delight!

For adults: My husband Brad and I have started doing this with some of our favorite cookbooks too. In fact, a couple years ago, I gifted him the Death & Company cocktail book and we even invited friends and family to review the cocktails we shared with them in the book. 

  1. Grow Herbs

Studies show that when families grow their own food, kids are more likely to try them! We love to grow fruits and vegetables in our garden beds, but we always have the best success growing herbs. Herbs can be grown in containers in a small space, on a kitchen windowsill, or in an entire garden bed. 

This year we are having lots of success with our dedicated herb garden – from basil and mint to thyme and rosemary — we all love to taste, smell and watch the herbs grow and flourish.

My oldest always grabs some mint to add to her water or lemonade, my youngest recently helped me with a pesto experiment — one traditional basil and one made with sage — and had a blast picking, tasting and comparing the two. My husband recently made the girls rosemary and thyme popcorn. And on any given evening you can find one or all three of them tasting the herbs that are growing as they stroll through the garden.

For adults: we sometimes menu plan based on the herbs outside and let the girls provide their thoughts. Fish with lemon and thyme…homemade pesto pasta…watermelon mint salad and much more!

  1. Teach Kids to make 1 Favorite Recipe to Perfection

My oldest daughter is entering high school this year and in four short years she’ll be leaving for college (sniff, sniff). She also happens to be my pickiest eater. But, this year, she has mastered scrambled eggs. I helped her at first, but then she figured out how she liked them and made them until they were perfect. She makes them regularly for lunch…and occasionally for dinner too. Maybe someday, she’ll add some fresh herbs or veggies, but for now, I love that she can make these on her own to (her) perfection and she loves them.

She’s mastered a few other meals, but I’ve especially loved watching her perfect her scrambled eggs. 

For adults: Again, I helped my daughter with her scrambled eggs in the beginning, but she does it all on her own now. My younger girls prefer fried eggs and they can do those on their own too. I think with a little guidance in the beginning and some confidence-boosting, kids can prepare a favorite, simple (healthy) meal even as toddlers. Maybe a sandwich, a smoothie or a yogurt parfait. My girls have also mastered the art of a charcuterie board, lol, and know how to put together a yummy assortment of cheeses, meats, fruits and nuts which we frequently have for dinner!

Sarah is a Nashville-based freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. Sarah writes about kid-friendly Nashville and expanding her family’s worldview through travel, food, books, and engaging in our local and international communities at The Wandering Rumpus

Follow Sarah @TheWanderingRumpus on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest, and at TheWanderingRumpus.com.

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